Published: April 1, 2016

All in a day’s work for chemical engineering grad-turned-lawyer Amy Kramer

Photo of chemical engineering graduate, Amy Kramer, smiling outside the engineering center.

Intellectual property attorneys don’t bask in the spotlight, but they are a company’s best friend when it comes to protecting IP rights. Instead of taking victory laps for defending against increasingly common infringement cases, intellectual property attorneys are likely buried underneath stacks of documents, poring over every detail to protect their clients’ rights. This is the world of engineer-turned-intellectual property lawyer Amy Kramer.

“Chemical engineering is one of the most versatile degrees you can get,” says Kramer. “You can work in large-scale manufacturing, develop household cleaning products, become a brewmaster or work for an oil company.”

You can also become a lawyer.

A 2006 chemical engineering graduate from CU-Boulder, Kramer quickly traded in her beakers and Bunsen burners to earn her 2009 JD—also from CU-Boulder—and entered the world of patent and trademark law. She is now an associate with Greenberg Traurig LLP, an international multipractice law firm with more than 1,900 attorneys serving clients from 38 offices in the U.S., Latin America, Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

In her day-to-day work as a lawyer, Kramer battles a fairly recent menace to businesses: “patent trolls.” Also referred to as “non-practicing entities” or “patent assertion entities,” these corporations are created solely for the purpose of enforcing patent rights and account for more than half of all patent lawsuits. 

“People earn a lot of money not by creating products of their own but by buying patents and suing companies of all sizes—from independent coffee shops to multinational technology firms—in attempts to win a settlement,” says Kramer. “Congress has been trying to deal with the issue for a long time.”

Kramer credits her engineering studies for her success as an attorney. It was an elective class that planted the seed for her legal career: Intellectual Property Law for Engineers.

Now entering her sixth year of practice, she specializes in trademark and practice litigation. Thanks to the burgeoning startup and entrepreneurial environment in Colorado, her field is always growing, and she continues to rely on her engineering background as a lawyer.

Kramer serves as co-chair of the Graduates of the Last Decade (GOLD) Board, which hosts events and organizes volunteer opportunities so alumni can stay involved and connected. The board also recognizes the achievements of graduates through the Recent Alumni Award, which is presented at the Engineering Awards Banquet held each spring.

“We’ve had some great events—from hosting a pool party for graduating seniors to renting the rooftop at a Rockies game to facilitating a behind-the-scenes tour of Lockheed Martin. If you’ve graduated from CU-Engineering in the last 10 years, be on the lookout for our events this year—we’d love to meet you!”